Hi Story

Susan Sarandon receiving the Renaissance Award at the 1st Annual Harlem International Film Festival in 2005

Celebrating the art of cinema in the home of the Harlem Renaissance, The Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) inspires and entertains by honoring dynamic films by anyone about anything under the sun. Conceived from the belief that we all have unique experiences and perspectives to share, the Festival actively seeks and exhibits fresh and urgent work. Hi is committed to exemplifying the eminence that Harlem represents and is dedicated to bringing attention to the finest filmmakers from Harlem to Hong Kong.

The Hi experience integrates the best that Harlem has to offer – great restaurants, unique boutiques, world-class music venues, prestigious universities and cultural institutions, and a long history of excellence in the Arts. The Festival showcases features, documentaries, shorts, animation, youth projects, episodic work and cutting edge music video. Other events include Hi noon lunchtime screenings, the screenplay showdown, panel discussions, nightlife, the Hi Honors and the Renaissance Awards gala.

In addition to showcasing some of the best films from around the world, the Festival also features the Harlem Spotlight, which highlights films produced or directed by Harlem residents, films shot in Harlem, or films about Harlem and her legendary history.


  • Mira Nair – Oscar Nominated Director
  • Susan Sarandon – Oscar Winning Actress
  • Keith David – Emmy Winning Actor
  • Eve Ensler – Obie Winning Playwright
  • Dr. Jeff Gardere – Acclaimed Psychologist
  • Wally Green – Harlem’s own Table Tennis Champion
  • Claire Aguilar – Former Director of Programming and Policy at the International Documentary Association and Director of Programming ITVS
  • Seith Mann – Award-winning Film and Television Director
  • Basil Smikle – Political Strategist and Professor
  • Laura Wagner – Director of Film Locations, Sotheby’s International Realty


  • Danielle Alonzo – Technical Manager
  • Damien Laudier – Business Manager
  • Ruya Koman – Volunteers Coordinator
  • B. Lorenzo Roaché – Director of Operations
  • Nasri Zacharia – Program Director


  • John Bylander – Branding Manager


  • Qa’id Jacobs


  • Kito Risbrook – Operations Consultant


  • Regge Allan Bruce
  • Shonnese C. L. Coleman
  • Francesca Guglielmo
  • Ron Lester
  • Agueda Ramirez